Thank you for the opportunity to address the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources on the concern regarding energy data in Canada.
I'll start my remarks with my recommendation that Canada establish an independent energy data agency using a governance model similar to that used with respect to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
We have been here before. Numerous organizations in the energy sector have noted for decades the need for an independent energy data centre. More recently, we have seen concerns raised about the lack of such an agency.
In 2012, Michal Moore, from the University of Calgary, published “A Proposal to Create a Pan-Canadian Energy Information Organization”. Also that year, we had this glaring headline from a Financial Post journalist, Jameson Berkow: “Finding information about the Canadian energy industry is easy—if you go to the U.S.” In addition, in that same year, the Senate's standing committee on energy and environment stated, “It's Time for a Canadian Energy Information Agency.”
In 2015, the Canadian energy strategy, agreed to by all the provinces, included goal 3.1: to “[i]mprove” the “quality of energy data across Canada”. That led to a discussion between the deputy minister of Alberta Energy at the time, Grant Sprague, the assistant deputy minister of energy at NRCan, Jay Khosla, and me. We agreed that it was important to reach out to stakeholders from across the country to see what they wanted regarding energy data and the status of data in Canada.
During that time, CERI produced an assessment of the data challenges we face in Canada, which include the following ones.
There is a lack of data. Only 38% of the 189 potential indicators are gathered. In particular, we lack information on emerging technologies and new energy services.
There is incoherent data. For example, we found at least 10 different definitions for GHG emissions.
There's inconsistent data. Out of 26 indicators assessed from various sources, 42% differed in value by more than 10%, so it is difficult to determine which source is correct.
We also found data lacking credibility. A CERI survey found different levels of trust by stakeholders regarding organizations that produced data or analysis. That percentage of trust varied as follows: government agencies, 67%; governments, 17%; economic experts and academia, 50%; and, industry associations, 42%.
There are also data gaps. To generate a complete set of data requires a review of up to 20 sources of major and minor publications, and that's beyond the resources and expertise of most stakeholders.
The data is not timely. Sixty-one per cent of data is available after one year, so the rest is still waiting, which means that trends in the data are difficult to produce, as is seeing where we are at any one time.
The full data gap analysis report is provided to the committee as background document A. You should have it in your package.
CERI, the Ivey Foundation, and the Trottier foundation worked together to gather interested people from across the country to discuss what needed to be done. In 2017, after two years of discussion, we came to some clear determinations of what was needed, but no one at the time was willing to put funding towards achieving an energy information organization.
The stakeholders were unanimous in their support for an independent and neutral agency with some analytical services. I've brought a summary of the overall discussions as background document B. You should have that.
CERI worked to reinforce our understanding of stakeholders by conducting a survey regarding the need for an energy information organization. The results of that study are included as background document C.
To crystalize our thinking on this matter, CERI developed a business case for stakeholders to reference. The full document is attached as background document D. However, the main responsibilities of an energy information organization would be threefold: data management, analysis and reports, and communications.
Data management would include up-to-date use of artificial intelligence tools and machine learning and cover things like data clearing and quality assurance, data reconciliation and harmonization, ensuring relevance and timeliness, and data gap analysis and filling the gaps with research.
The second part was analysis and reports. From looking in the past we would conduct analysis of historical developments and trends. The current would look at market monitoring and assessments, and the future would look at scenario analysis unfettered by existing policy.
From a communications perspective, we would ensure unrestricted access to information and make sure the information was shared across organizations in the country.
Key to the success of such an organization is an open platform for sharing data. Many organizations and governments in Canada gather data. We should leverage these activities and the value they create by forming a collaboration among the parties. This can build trust, which is vital for the data being gathered, and promote the use of this information as a source for evidence-based decisions by government, industry, indigenous groups, and environmental organizations.
This country is in the midst of a transition to lower-carbon energy systems. Important decisions are being made that will affect the lives and businesses of us all. Without a comprehensive and credible set of data that we all recognize, those decisions and that transition will be more challenging.